No Wellness Wankery

100: Which is the BEST milk to drink? Full fat, A2, soy, almond?

February 06, 2024 Lyndi Cohen
No Wellness Wankery
100: Which is the BEST milk to drink? Full fat, A2, soy, almond?
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Milk and milk alternatives are one of those food products that are surrounded by myths and false health claims. Is milk healthy? Does it make you bloated? Should you be choosing a plant-based alternative?

I’m answering all your questions about milk, and diving into the research around which is the best option for you and your body. 

We cover:

  • The benefits of milk for your gut health, digestion, immune function, mood and more
  • Why I think milk is an important part of your diet, and the many nutrients it contains
  • What sets a2 Milk® apart from other milk products
  • The difference between whole milk, reduced fat, light and skim milks, and which is actually the healthiest
  • Why we need milk at different stages of life for optimal health
  • Whether lactose-free and long-life milk are healthy
  • How to avoid gut discomfort after drinking milk
  • Whether plant-based milk alternatives are healthier options, and how to choose the best products for your health needs.

This episode provides you with all the facts and information you need to find the milk that’s right for you.

* This podcast is proudly sponsored by a2 Milk®. I genuinely stand by and use a2 Milk® products, thanks to the science behind their products and my own experience of a2 Milk® resolving any digestive discomfort I’ve noticed with other milks. I’m not pushing any products, I’m just sharing the facts and information so you can make your own choices when it comes to the right milk for your needs.

Want to feel more in control around food? My FREE webinar has my top 4 strategies to help you stop overeating.

Looking for more support to feel in control around food? I'd love to support you in my Binge Free Academy

If you don't already - come follow me on the gram at @nude_nutritionist (no nude pics, sorry).

Want to share some feedback or have an idea for an episode, I'd LOVE to hear from you - hit me up at hello@lyndicohen.com

Lyndi Cohen:

Hello everyone and welcome to no Wellness Wankery Podcast. I'm your host, Lyndi Cohen, dietitian, nutritionist and hater of nutrition nonsense. Which is good for today's episode. We are talking about choosing the right milk for you, and this is what I want you to listen to. If you want to simplify the overwhelming and my goodness, it is overwhelming the number of milk options out there, what should we be drinking? Today, I'm going to be dispelling some of the myths and sharing some facts about milk so that you can choose the right milk or milk alternative for you, because I think, with the right information, you'll be able to find the best option for your body. Plus February, at the moment it is gut health month, and there is strong signs around the impact of gut health on digestion, on immunity, overall mood and on wellness. And so often we measure gut health by the way that we feel so think constipation, wind bloating and things like abdominal pain and we often associate this with different foods. So milk is a common food that some people avoid. So that's why we're going to review what milk may be the right one for you amongst the sea of options that are available to you. And just a note before we begin this podcast is proudly sponsored by A2 Milk. But here's what you've got to know about me and about sponsorships. I actually don't do many sponsored stuff because there are only a few companies I would hand on heart, promote and stand by, and A2 Milk is one of those companies. A2 Milk is science-backed, particularly around resolving digestive discomfort that some people end up experiencing when drinking milk, and also I'll explain about it in more detail in today's episode. So if you ever hear or see sponsored content like this from me, please know that I'm not hiding away any facts here. In fact, you'll hear from today's episode that I will not push products at you. I'm just keen to give you more information to help separate the wellness from the wankery. And joined with me today to help us do just that is my lovely colleague and fellow nutritionist, natalia Jaler.

Natalia Szala:

Hi, thank you for having me. I'm a little bit nervous, but very excited to have this chat with you, lindy. Let's get into it.

Lyndi Cohen:

Let's get into it, because it's a biggie. So I guess let's start at the very beginning. Which are the benefits of having something like dairy milk? Are you a fan of dairy milk?

Natalia Szala:

I am. I grew up on dairy milk, so I don't really know much different. Yeah, no, I'm a big fan. What about you?

Lyndi Cohen:

Well, I mean, as a dietitian, I mean personally drink it, but I also I'm a big fan of having it as part of your diet because it is part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle for so many reasons. There are a number of naturally occurring nutrients in cow's milk and dairy, including things like vitamin A, d, e and K. There are B group vitamins as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, selenium. You get it. There are lots of nutrients and plus, the thing we often hear about is calcium, which is super important for keeping your bones and your teeth strong. Remember those B group vitamins. They help to turn the food you eat into energy, keeping your nerves working well, and they even help your skin stay healthy. Plus, then we got that protein, which is inherent in dairy milk, and protein helps you to grow, repair and keep your muscles strong. Now, as we're aging, this is particularly important, and you'll see in later in this podcast episode, I want to be talking about how we can have dairy at different stages of our lives, or milk alternatives at different stages of our lives, and how our needs change and adjust as we get older. Now just back to that protein thing. Cacine is the main protein found in milk, so there are two broad types of beta-cacine. There is A1 and there is A2, which we are going to talk about, because I think you're probably scratching your head going.

Natalia Szala:

I still don't know what you're talking about Totally. I mean, I think there's so much confusion about what milk is and, most importantly, how is milk actually made. Let's talk about this.

Lyndi Cohen:

I don't think many people know how this, how milk is actually made, and what's important to know about milk is that not every cow makes the same milk. I mean, this is something that was surprising to me when I first learned it, but it makes so much sense. Some cows have higher fat content in their milk, naturally Think about something like a jersey cow and then others only produce the A2, beta-cacine protein. So then let's chat about the different types of milk so that you can choose the right one for you.

Natalia Szala:

So I think the first one that most people are familiar with whole milk. So what is whole milk?

Lyndi Cohen:

It's a really good question. I think so many of us grew up having whole milk and we just take it for granted that this is this thing that we are familiar with, but it has a set percentage of fat content in it.

Natalia Szala:

Yes, yes, it does so. It has 3.25% fat. Is whole milk better than skim milk?

Lyndi Cohen:

Oh, my goodness, I get that question all the time, all the time, and I don't necessarily think that one is better for you than the other, and I think that's something that diet culture had us believing is that you had to go for one or the other. But personally, I feel like, depending on your needs, you should be choosing the right milk that is good for you and your body. For example, as your energy needs change throughout your life, you might change what type of milk you have. If you have a child or a teenager, they actually have a very high energy needs and, as a result, having something like a whole milk, something with that 3.25% fat content, can actually help give them the energy they need to move through their day and give them the energy that they need as they're growing. As people get older, there is tendency to swap to going for something like a reduced fat, a light or a skim milk.

Natalia Szala:

So let's talk about those. Yes, let's fast this myth. Does light and skim milk have added sugar?

Lyndi Cohen:

No, oh, my goodness, oh, my goodness, the number of people who think that reduced fat, light and skim milk have added sugar. It does not. I want you to know that right now. Now, if you look at the back of the pack, the sugar content is going to appear higher on these milks, but that's only because the fat content is lower. So that is what you're seeing there. No one's getting sugar and pouring it into these milks. What is happening is there a standardization of the percentage of fat in these milks so that when you are buying a reduced fat milk, you know there's 2% fat. When you buy a light milk, you can guarantee it's 1.5% fat, and when you buy skim milk, which is also known as a fat-free milk, you can guarantee that there is 0.15% fat in it, because, remembering, those cows are producing different types of milk, and so there has to be a standardization of the fat content so that it's reliable and whether you're going to the local convenience store or the big grocery store, you're getting the same percentage of fat.

Natalia Szala:

Okay. So if you're not sure what type of milk fat percentage it is, a really good way to find that out is just to look at the fat per 100 grams on the nutritional label. So if it's 2 grams per 100, then it's 2%.

Lyndi Cohen:

Amazing. So if it's 3.25 grams per 100 grams, that's a full fat milk. That's an easy way to look at that. Now let's talk about the importance of milk throughout your life. So, as we talked about, as you change, your needs are going to change nutritionally. So we need to treat bone health as a lifelong journey and we need calcium to develop and maintain our bone health. You've probably heard that before, and the more calcium we have when we are younger, the more we have available to use when we get older, which we know gets so important as we get older. And since there's not that much calcium in regular foods, you might be surprised there really isn't that much free calcium available in just general foods. It can be tricky for people who feel like they can't tolerate milk to get enough calcium into their diet. And just so you know, one cup of milk provides between half to a third of your calcium requirements if you're a child, so someone aged between one to 11, and around one third to a quarter of that for an adult. And so that's why we often hear the recommendation that we should be going for three serves of dairy in our day to get that calcium requirement and remembering it's so important for our bones.

Natalia Szala:

So what you're saying is, the foundations we lay from childhood and adolescence can slow this bone mass process.

Lyndi Cohen:

Absolutely, and what this means is that we should not stop drinking milk as we age. In fact, as we age, we lose bone mass and we lose strength, and this loss this becomes more prevalent around the ages of like 40 to 50 years of age, particularly women who are going through menopause, which I know many people who are listening to this podcast are currently in that stage of life. Now the risk of bone related issues so things like osteoporosis that increases, and getting enough calcium so adequate intake of calcium becomes totally essential to support you and your bone density. Now there is also a tendency to lose muscle mass, and so consuming enough protein is an important way to support overall muscle health and function, and I keep coming back to this. But cow's milk is an excellent source of protein In general. It's one of the best and, I think, most underrated sources of protein that also contains those essential nutrients we spoke about, and this is the thing I think many people forget to mention when it comes to dairy. Something like a glass of milk is a very affordable way to get a source of protein, and you could especially compare it to something like having meat or one of those protein powders. It's super accessible and affordable.

Natalia Szala:

Totally. I think so many of us are so caught up in what supplements we can get and getting expensive protein powders that we forget about the basics and, as you said, they are the most affordable sources and tasty, exactly, which matters. Yes, it does. Now let's get into A2 milk. Ok, so A2 milk you've seen it around, let's talk about it. What is it?

Lyndi Cohen:

Yeah. So firstly, let's chat about the most common confusion around milk, which is lactose, and how it's something that's often avoided by people because of the very not so fun side effect. So many people end up cutting out dairy products or foods and they swap to lactose-free milks because they're experiencing things like bloating and wind as I said, very unfun when in fact you might not need to be doing this. It can actually be as simple as switching to a naturally A1 protein-free milk to see how your body responds and still get all the benefits of cow's milk. So I guess this is the burning question then what is an A1 free milk?

Natalia Szala:

So we mentioned earlier that milk's main protein is casein, with two types being A1 and A2. So the main difference between A1 protein and A2 protein is how it breaks down in your gut.

Lyndi Cohen:

Totally so. Research has shown that the A1 protein it may cause inflammation in your gut, which could lead to digestive issues, including that wind, abdominal pain, the bloating, the diarrhea and the constipation for some people. Now this discomfort leads so many people to think that they actually have this lactose intolerance. However, these studies are suggesting that sensitivity to milk may be related to the milk proteins rather than lactose for some people. So what I am saying is, for those who may be sensitive to the A1 protein or who are experiencing some discomfort from having something like regular milk, milk from A2 milk might be a suitable alternative and something totally worth trying. If you haven't tried A2 milk and you're going listen, I'm trying normal dairy milk and it's just not sitting right for me. Before going ahead and cutting out all dairy milk, swapping to a lactose-free or a plant-based option, first give it A2 a chance, because it might really suit your body.

Natalia Szala:

Totally, and I think it could be really beneficial. And I think a lot of these lactose intolerances are kind of self-claimed. So yes, I'm lactose intolerant, but I still eat cheese and chocolate. So before you do that, definitely try A2 milk Now, before we get into A2 milk. Does all milk contain the A1 protein?

Lyndi Cohen:

Great question. Now, most cows milk in the grocery stores that contains a combo of A1 and A2 beta-casin proteins. Now A2 milk, however, comes from cows that naturally only produce the A2 protein. I think that's a really important thing to note that many people don't realize. A2 milk is natural and nothing, absolutely nothing, is done to the cows or the milk during the milking process. What is actually happening, so that we're getting an A2 milk, is that the cows are tested and then they are selected so that it's only the ones who produce the A2 protein type that are being used, and not the A1. So it is based on genetics. In a way, it's similar to having brown eyes or blue eyes.

Natalia Szala:

So choosing an A1 free milk. How do you go about it?

Lyndi Cohen:

Right, Okay, so with A2, milk has a range of milk options, so you can go light, full cream, lactose free, UHD. So what that means is that you can choose the one that's best suited for you and if you haven't tried an A2 milk, as I said, give it a go and see how it feels for your body. So now, speaking of lactose free milk, it's important to note that if you have a lactose intolerance and I'm not talking about, you know, as you said, a self diagnosis it doesn't necessarily require a complete elimination of lactose from your diet. I don't think many people realize. Instead, what I would encourage you to do is finding the specific amount of lactose that your body can handle, and finding your personal comfort level allows you to, I guess, enjoy the benefits and the advantages of still consuming dairy products while managing your intolerances. So you might find that some foods naturally have a lower lactose amount and by changing maybe not having the full serving size, but just having a smaller amount you might notice oh, I don't actually get negative symptoms as a result of that there. That's the way that you're going to find your natural lactose tolerance amount.

Natalia Szala:

Okay, so what's the tier with lactose?

Lyndi Cohen:

anyway. Well, yeah, we see you have this lactose free milk, and for some people they will need to have a lactose free milk, because that lactose is the naturally occurring sugar that's found in milk, and then some people absolutely have trouble digesting it. Lactose free milk is, very simply, a milk that has lactase, which is an enzyme that breaks down the lactose, and that has been added into it. So this basically gives the digestive system a bit of a hand in processing that lactose. So you can, I guess, still get the taste and you get the benefits of having milk, but without those tummy troubles. Now let's talk about UHD, or Long Life Milk, which is another type of milk that I think is worth mentioning.

Natalia Szala:

Yes, so the UHD stands for Ultra High Temperature Processing and it's basically a process of bringing the milk to a very high temperature, killing the potential pathogens or microbes, so that milk can remain shelf stable, unlike fresh milk. But is it safe to drink? Absolutely. So I always have one liter of UHD milk in my pantry, or just in case you know, when I kind of forget to get my fresh bottle of milk, it's always nice just to have it there in the pantry. I can pull it out, add it to my coffee smoothie, whatever I totally have the same.

Lyndi Cohen:

Especially having kids, I feel like if I don't have milk ready for them, I'm in trouble. So that UHD is just. It's my backup, it's sitting in there, and I think the thing I really want you to be aware of is, once you have opened UHD milk, it has to be stored in the fridge, and this is the same for all milk. So one of the things I think we should all be doing is, if you're unsure, how do I store this milk? Please check the label, the back of the packet, and that's going to help you work out how to store it safely. Okay now plant-based milks. My friends, you would have seen them absolutely everywhere in the last, I feel like in the last 10 years. They have just been going gang buses and now there's like a gazillion times of plant-based Totally.

Natalia Szala:

It's such a hot topic I feel like everyone's kind of on plant-based milk. So you know, try not to get into the craze. Yes, but if, for whatever reason, you feel like you really can't have dairy milk, what are some good options there?

Lyndi Cohen:

Yeah, well, I think it's great to finally have some of those options, because some people are not going to be able to tolerate cow's milk, and so now we have options. We have almond, we have oat, we have soy milk, we have all these kind of go-to options. One of the things I talked about is that there are naturally occurring nutrients in cow's milk, things like calcium. So one of the things I really want you to be checking when you're going for these plant-based milks is making sure that they have those nutrients added in so that you're not missing out on them. So looking for things that are fortified with iodine, vitamin B12 and vitamin D, having calcium fortified in your milk alternative and that's just going to be such an added bonus and help you get the full nutritional benefits from having something like that. And if you are unsure, one of the things you can very easily do is check the nutrition panel on the back or even the side of the carton and just see if there are these nutrients have been added. I just think it's kind of a handy thing to look at that nutrition panel sometimes.

Natalia Szala:

Yeah, totally. You can also read the nutrition panel between different milks and kind of choose someone that's the best option for you. Ideally go for the no added sugar option as well.

Lyndi Cohen:

Yeah, I mean, it still tastes really good without the sugar added, and so what we're looking for is we're going for one that's going okay. Does this have added nutrients to it? Does this have less sugar or no sugar added to it? And do I like the taste? And does this agree with me? Personally, I gravitate towards having some like oat milk. If I had to go plant based, that is the one that I'm absolutely gravitating to, and then it really comes down to taste as well, which, because that matters when it comes to food, we need to enjoy the food weed, we need to feel satisfied and it can't feel like a compromise. Otherwise we feel a bit deprived.

Natalia Szala:

Totally. And what I like about oat milk as well it's got that sweet taste. It's naturally quite sweet. Now, one super important thing is most plant milks need to be shaken before drinking. Can I just say?

Lyndi Cohen:

you actually 100% need to make sure that the lid is on very securely, Cause I have tried to shake my milk and splurged milk all over my house and it is very hard to tidy up. So do not be like me be smarter than me and make sure the lid is screwed on tight. That's a great tip, Lindy.

Natalia Szala:

Thank you.

Lyndi Cohen:

I'm coming in with the goods there. So what is the takeaway? What are we really saying in this episode?

Natalia Szala:

So the main takeaway here is find a milk that's right for you. You know, if you have got discomfort after drinking regular cow's milk, a2 is a super great option. Remember, there are lots of different ones you can choose from. You can choose from full cream, skim, uht, uht, and if you feel like you really can't tolerate cow's milk, there are heaps of plant based options for you to choose from as well.

Lyndi Cohen:

So, like we're saying, when it comes to broader nutrition, what I want you to do is experiment. I want you to listen to your body, cause it's constantly going to be giving you cues and clues to look after it. So try different milks, experiment, find the one that's right for you, instead of getting bogged down by all the rules and all the things that all these so-called experts are saying. Just experiment your body is the expert and just to sign off. I just want to say thank you again to A2 Milk for sponsoring this episode and, if you have any questions, I'll leave a link with more information in the show notes To this episode. I hope they'll answer your questions there, and you can always reach out to me via Instagram I'm nude underscore nutritionist or shoot me an email hello at lindycoanscom. I always love hearing from you. Thanks, everyone, and we'll see you next time.

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A1/A2 Milk and Milk Alternatives
Choosing the Right Milk
Experimenting With Nutrition and A2 Milk